Blackmagic Takes Conversions on the Run

KANSAS CITY, MO.—Space, speed and compatibility— when you operate a mobile satellite communications company, you find yourself dealing with those three issues on a frequent basis.

At Freebird Communications, we provide broadcast services throughout the Midwest for most of the major broadcast networks and we also provide an array of live production and SNG/ENG services in both SD and HD. Each day brings a new production challenge. One day we may be servicing a network news crew; the next day we could be called upon to uplink a sporting event with closed captioning; and the following day could find us producing a three-camera satellite media tour.

Our services revolve around three mobile production trucks which are constantly being updated as the need arises and technology evolves. We have two SNG-style Ku-band uplink trucks with full equipment complements, and we also have a dual-band C/Ku uplink truck that’s equipped with a 3.7 meter antenna, and designed specifically for use with sporting events and entertainment show backhauls.

The Teranex 2D Due to our diverse client base and broad service offerings, our trucks have to handle multiformat video cross-conversions. To accomplish this, we’ve been adding Teranex 2D processors from Blackmagic Design, with units up and running in two of our trucks.

The Teranex units allow us to roll with the punches on any given job. Since we work with so many different broadcasters and newsrooms, we have to be incredibly flexible. It’ not surprising to be given DVCAM footage and be asked to upconvert it to 1080p, or we could be given some 1080p content with a request to provide component analog video from it.

Most of the work we’ve done with the Teranex devices has been video in/out conversions on the fly, and the unts have proven really great in these applications.

Upon taking delivery of the converters, I was immediately impressed with their design and functionality. They were also incredibly easy to integrate and use. It took all of five minutes to get all my operators up to speed.

Our experience with converters from other manufacturers has been that they sometimes take oversimplification too far, and that can make the workflow that much more difficult. Teranex has engineered an intuitive product with front panel configurations that are easier to use than anything else out there. You can do everything you want with just a couple of button pushes.

We also now rely on the Teranex 2D devices’ ability to work with any of the other technologies we need to use in our production workflow. They easily interface with HDMI, analog, SD/HD 3G SDI video, and balanced analog audio sources and destinations, and let us perform up-, down- and cross-conversion without any worries. Such things as aspect ratio conversions, de-interlacing and standards conversion don’t faze them either.

Anyone who’s ever been in a mobile production facility knows that space is very much at a premium. The Teranex units fill the bill here too with their small footprint design.

Matthew Roberts is the president of Freebird Communications. He may be contacted

For additional information, contact Blackmagic Design at 408-954-0500 or